Cleaning and Disinfecting…Why You Need To Do Both

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Cleaning and Disinfecting Are Not The Same

Cleaning and disinfecting achieve two distinctly different objectives. Each plays an extremely important role in getting equipment ready to be used for food processing or pharmaceutical manufacturing. It is important to understand the differences between the two, and how each contributes to the overall preparation of manufacturing equipment.

What is Cleaning?

Cleaning refers to removing all dirts and soils from a surface. Detergents are used to clean surfaces. “Cleaning is the complete removal of…soil using appropriate detergent chemicals under recommended conditions.” (IFAS 2015

What is Disinfecting?

Disinfecting refers to destroying or killing any germs, microbes or bacteria that are present on the surface. Disinfectants are used to accomplish this task. “A disinfectant is a product which kills microbes without employing a soil removal action”. (Safefood 360 2012

Why do both?

It is imperative to thoroughly clean surfaces prior to disinfecting. Removing traces of dirt, debris and dust primes surfaces and equipment for disinfection. Soils can harbor germs and bacteria. Disinfection becomes less effective if surface soils are present.

If a surface is disinfected before it is cleaned, the remaining soils can still contribute to the growth of harmful microbes and lead to further contamination. The residual soils may also serve as a barrier, preventing the disinfectant from reaching the surface and doing its job. Lingering soils on the surface may possibly affect the active chemicals in a disinfectant, impacting their efficiency. If the surface is thoroughly cleaned first, and validated for cleanliness, the disinfection step becomes much more effective.

Cleaning procedures for surfaces in food processing and pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities should include the following steps:

1. Removal of large debris
2. Surface rinse
3. Cleaning with a specialty detergent
4. Post cleaning rinse
5. Disinfection
6. Rinse
7. Validation

By thoroughly cleaning surfaces prior to disinfection, manufacturers can feel confident that they have taken the necessary steps to provide a clean and germ-free environment. Validating the cleaning and disinfecting procedures corroborates those steps.

Interested in learning more about specialty cleaners for use in food & beverage or pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities? Need assistance in choosing the right product for your critical cleaning application? Visit International Products Corporation’s website or contact one of our technical specialists.

All of IPC’s specialty cleaners are registered with NSF as A1 cleaners and can be validated in FDA processes.

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